My opinion-piece published by The Scientist Magazine

Today The Scientist Magazine published my opinion-piece:

OPINION: Scientific Peer Review in Crisis
Case of the Danish Cohort

Full article available here

I am hoping that the editors of the British Medical Journal will finally take action.

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7 thoughts on “My opinion-piece published by The Scientist Magazine

  1. Vicky,
    The BMJ seems not to care. Firstly, 12 different critical commentaries were published in BMJ in the end of 2011 and early 2012. Some called for retraction. Nothing happened. I was also in contact with one of the editors over twitter – nothing happened… I wrote story in The Washington Times Communities – nothing happened. So, I wrote story in The Scientist… I wonder itf anything will happen. Today, I sent link to my story to the Editor-in-Chief of BMJ. I am waiting…

  2. Well done on the article, Dariusz. This is an important discussion but shouldn’t we all be engaging directly with the BMJ on this?

    How about a campaign to email/tweet the BMJ calling for them to retract the study? Twitter would be a good medium for this, as it would get the discussion out to a wider audience.

  3. Thank you for pointing the absurdity of the Danish Cohort study. Unbelievable that such blatant error could be tolerated by the journal editors.

    Somehow, studies like this are made for and used by industry-affiliated groups to advertise the “safety” of cellphones. One example is the industry-founded website called EMFandHealth.com which repeatedly cited the Danish study as “objective”, “peer-reviewed” scientific evidence!

    They said:
    “This is probably the most reliable epidemiological study on cell phones and cancer to date. ”
    “A large Danish cohort study of mobile telephone subscribers,8,9 with an average follow-up time of 8.5 years, found no increased risk of brain tumours in subscribers of >10 years.”
    “One of the most important studies on cell phones was a Danish study of 420,000 cell phone users … it is one of the few that is based on actual hard data.”

    Danish Cohort Study: What a joke of MIS-INFORMATION!

  4. Hi Dariusz.

    Congratulations on exposing this latest important case of shonky science. My experience with a similar scientific “peer review” disgrace involving the University of Sydney suggests that the retraction you seek may take some time. Good luck!

    The “peer reviewed” confirmation that cell phones are not a problem seems akin to the “peer reviewed” confirmation of the existence of the “Australian Paradox” – the University of Sydney’s claimed scientific observation of “…a consistent and substantial decline in total refined or added sugar consumption by Australians over the past 30 years” (1980 to 2010), and thus ”an inverse relationship” between sugar consumption and obesity.

    My year-long dispute with the University of Sydney began early in 2012 when I “solved” the Australian Paradox. Not that it was hard: the so-called “paradox” fell over at the slightest scrutiny of the basic facts.

    (i) It turns out that the overconfident University of Sydney scientists were unaware that the key Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) sugar series on which their obviously false “finding” is based had been discontinued as unreliable by the ABS after 1998-99, over a decade before their obviously faulty paper was (self) published.

    (ii) Nor did the authors notice that the extended series – showing flat consumption at a very low level over the 2000s – published by Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) involves clearly falsified data: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/FAOfalsifiedsugar.pdf

    (iii) Moreover, the University of Sydney’s unreliable authors somehow failed to notice that their four – four! – valid measures of per-capita sugar consumption – in their own published charts – trended up not down (http://www.smh.com.au/business/economist-v-nutritionists-big-sugar-and-lowgi-brigade-lose-20120307-1uj6u.html )

    That is, there is no Australian Paradox, just an extraordinary misreading of the available information – a series of serious errors – and a bogus high-profile conclusion published with the influential lead author operating as the “Guest Editor” of the little-respected pay-as-you-publish E-journal Nutrients.

    Importantly, my dispute with the University of Sydney at its core is not about science and it’s not about nutrition – it’s about simple things like up versus down, valid versus invalid datasets and the need to correct serious errors in the public debate (Slides 13-17 inhttp://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/22Slideshowaustraliangoestoparadoxcanberrafinal.pdf ).

    Widely trusted nutritionist Dr Rosemary Stanton has confirmed that the Australian Paradox “finding” should not be taken seriously: “And yes, I agree with you [Rory] that we have no evidence that sugar consumption in Australia has fallen. A walk around any supermarket shows that huge numbers of foods contain sugar. I argue this point frequently with colleagues”; “I have many objections to that particular paper and to the idea that sugar is not a problem”; and “I have expressed my opinion about the paper to the authors … I will almost certainly cite it at some stage as an example of something I consider to be incorrect” (Slide 18 in the link above).

    Interestingly, the authors of the Australia Paradox paper that (falsely) exonerates sugar as a health hazard also:

    X publish and distribute pro-sugar low-GI diet books (retailing the happy “fact” that “There is absolute consensus that sugar in food does not cause diabetes”);

    X operate a low-GI business stamping sugar and sugary foods as Healthy: http://www.gisymbol.com/cmsAdmin/uploads/Glycemic-Index-Foundation-Healthy-Choices-Brochure.pdf

    X went out of their way to rubbish the NHMRC for its (correct) assessment that added sugar is a menace to public health (“myth” not evidence!): http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/health-science/a-spoonful-of-sugar-is-not-so-bad/story-e6frg8y6-1226090126776

    x allowed the sugar and sugary food industries to use their “shonky sugar study” as an intellectual spearhead to try to kill the NHMRC’s planned tougher advice against added sugar: http://www.smh.com.au/national/health/research-causes-stir-over-sugars-role-in-obesity-20120330-1w3e5.html

    x defend with false information their obviously faulty but “peer reviewed” Australian Paradox “finding” : http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/JBM-AWB-AustralianParadox.pdf and http://www.smh.com.au/business/pesky-economist-wont-let-big-sugar-lie-20120725-22pru.html

    How’s that for fighting the good fight for better public health!

    The good news is that last week – Monday 18 February 2013 – brought a decisive win in the “sugar wars” for the prospect of improved public health:

    x The Australian Government toughened official dietary advice against added sugar.
    x The pro-sugar University of Sydney’s credibility in nutrition science has been shredded: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-02-19/sugar-re-think-an-evidence-based-decision/4527312?section=business

    Here’s my summary of the state of play after last week’s momentous events: http://www.australianparadox.com/pdf/canberradietary.pdf

    Yes, I am arguing near and far for the correction or retraction of the faulty – and now-discredited – Australia Paradox paper. For further detail on the Australian Paradox scandal, try http://www.australianparadox.com and http://www.australianparadox.com/part-2

  5. In English: The methodology of epidemiological research regarding mobile telephony has so serious errors that you have to suspect research misconduct. The academic science education myself got the basic biology and chemistry courses was indeed a higher quality than those highly educated scientists manage to achieve. Methodology errors were carefully reviewed and documented, and had done so in these studies had been seen serious errors in methodology. This, then, research at a high scientific level I compare my undergraduate with. I’ve highlighted the most important thing in the Dariusz writes here about the methodology in studies which IARC of the WHO leans against. Scientific errors whose methodology should have been seen by the reviewer. Research misconduct in order to benefit the mobile phone industry. The same research misconduct can be found if one examined the methodology in these studies on EHS.

    Solveig Silverin, Environmental Engineer

  6. Metodiken inom de epidemiologiska forskningen gällande mobiltelefonin har så grova felkällor att man måste misstänka forskningsfusk. Den akademiska naturvetenskapliga utbildning jag själv fick i grundkurserna biologi och kemi höll sannerligen en högre kvalitet än vad dessa högutbildade forskare lyckas åstadkomma. Metodikens felkällor skulle noga granskas och dokumenteras och hade man gjort detta i dessa studier hade man sett allvarliga felkällor i metodiken. Detta är alltså forskning på hög vetenskaplig nivå jag jämför min grundutbildning med. Jag har markerat det viktigaste i det Dariusz skriver här om metodiken i studier som man lutar sig emot i IARC inom WHO. Studier vars metodik borde kunnat ha genomskådats av granskare. Forskningsfusk för att gynna mobilindustrin. Samma forskningsfusk kan man finna om man granskade metodiken i dessa provokationsstudier på elöverkänsliga.
    Solveig Silverin, miljöingenjör

  7. Pingback: Scientific Peer Review in Crisis: The case of the Danish Cohort | EMFacts Consultancy

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